Lionsgate is on just about everybody’s list of potential takeover targets when they think of deals that might follow Fox’s aborted $80B run at Time Warner. Lots of media companies, and perhaps tech ones, would love to have Lionsgate’s library of movie hits including The Hunger Games and TV shows such as Orange Is The New Black and Nurse Jackie. And it’s affordable, as these things go, with a market value of about $4.3B. So all ears were on CEO Jon Feltheimer when the consolidation question came up this morning in his quarterly call with analysts. As you might expect, he left himself a lot of wiggle room: “We’re going to keep a close eye” on what happens, he says, adding that the company sees deals “more as an opportunity than a threat. … We feel as a disruptive, opportunistic company we’re poised to take advantage.” Still, he adds, “we’re pretty good at growing things. … We don’t feel that we have to do anything.”
Vice Chairman Michael Burns says that Lionsgate doesn’t need to be much bigger following its 2012 acquisition of Summit Entertainment. That “put us over the tipping point of being able to compete globally. We don’t have to do another acquisition.”
Investors like the overall message from the company: Shares are up 4.5% in early trading with encouraging news nuggets from this morning’s call following last night’s better-than-expected profit report for the quarter that ended in June.
Lionsgate says that its new show Manhattan is off to an explosive start: The premiere on WGN attracted 1.8 million live viewers, rising to 2.2 million when you include people who watched it within the first three days. It’s the No. 2 show on Hulu, which has a deal with WGN that allows it to stream the show the day after it first airs. The studio also says that it has licensed Manhattan in China for a company-high per-episode fee.
Execs also are excited by initial download sales (also known as electronic sellthrough, EST) for Divergent, released two weeks ahead of discs for a premium price. It was the biggest EST title in Lionsgate history, running 30% ahead of its expectations. That didn’t appear to have hurt disc sales. In the first three days out on DVD and Blu-ray, sales tracked more like a title with a domestic box office of as much as $250M as opposed to one that made $150M. “I don’t think [EST] is cannibalistic at all,” co-COO Steve Beeks says. “Even if it is slightly cannibalistic, the margins are so much higher.”
Lionsgate also said that it plans to relocate its international sales operations to London, putting them closer to its markets. And it’s preparing to start production of Last Witch Hunter and Now You See Me 2 this fall.
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